Victor Mature, 86, the brawny film star of the 1940s and '50s who played Samson in "Samson and Delilah" and Doc Holliday in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine," died Aug. 4. He had cancer.
Tall, dark-haired and muscular, with heavy-lidded eyes and a full mouth, Mr. Mature earned the nickname "beautiful hunk of man" in films such as "One Million B.C." and "Song of the Islands."
While making his name as a glamour-boy star with a devil-may-care attitude, he gradually gained more critical respect in the late 1940s in such films as "Cry of the City" and "Kiss of Death."
He appeared in musicals, Westerns, comedies, historical epics and melodramas.
In "My Darling Clementine," 1946, he was Doc Holliday to Henry Fonda's Wyatt Earp. The version of the fabled gunfight at the OK Corral is considered one of Ford's greatest films.
Cecil B. DeMille's 1949 telling of the saga of Samson and Delilah cast Mr. Mature and Hedy Lamarr in the title roles. It was a smash hit.
Mr. Mature was at 20th Century Fox for many years but often loaned out to other studios as well. "They turned pictures out like Cracker Jack," he told The New York Times in 1971. " `Kiss of Death' got made because Fox was one black-and-white picture short on its schedule."
That 1947 film paired Mature with a screen newcomer, Richard Widmark. Mr. Mature played a thief who turned state's evidence, Widmark a psychopathic killer. The film caused a sensation and earned Widmark an Academy Award nomination.
Among Mr. Mature's other films: "The Shanghai Gesture," 1941, directed by Josef von Sternberg; "My Gal Sal," 1942, with Rita Hayworth; "I Wake Up Screaming," 1941, with Betty Grable; "Wabash Avenue," 1950, again with Miss Grable; "The Robe," 1953, as the slave Demetrius; a sequel, "Demetrius and the Gladiators, 1954; and "Chief Crazy Horse," 1954, with Mr. Mature in the title role.
Mr. Mature, careful with his money unless a friend was in need, invested in real estate and retail stores, enabling him to retire comfortably before he reached 45. He moved to Rancho Santa Fe, and once bragged that he played golf four hours a day, six days a week.
He made only a few film appearances in the past 35 years, notably the 1966 Italian farce "After the Fox," in which he spoofed his old image; and "Every Little Crook and Nanny," a 1972 comedy in which he co-starred with Lynn Redgrave. In 1984 he made a rare appearance on television, playing Samson's father in a new version of "Samson and Delilah."
Making fun of the notion that he was just a pretty face, he liked to joke that he once tried to get into a country club that didn't accept actors by saying, "Hell, I'm no actor, and I've got 28 pictures and a scrapbook of reviews to prove it."
Mr. Mature was born in Louisville, the son of an Austrian immigrant who became a successful businessman. Coming to California in the mid-1930s, he studied at the Pasadena Playhouse, paying his way with odd jobs because he didn't want to rely on his father. He made his screen debut with a small role in "The Housekeeper's Daughter" in 1939.
He was married five times. Survivors include his wife, Lorey, a former Chicago opera singer, and their daughter, Victoria.